UEFA has opened a disciplinary investigation after Italian club AC Milan’s striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was subjected to ethnic abuse in last week’s Europa League match against Red Star Belgrade in Serbia.
Serbian media reported that Ibrahimovic, who has Bosnian roots, was insulted by an individual seated in the Red Star stadium’s VIP box during the February 18 match.
“An Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has been appointed today to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding incidents which occurred during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match,” UEFA said in a statement on Thursday.
Ibrahimovic did not play in the game but a TV channel broadcast scenes of the Swede as the voice of a man chanted an abusive term at him several times.
The word is a pejorative slur for Bosniak Muslims used by Serbian nationalists.
Swedish striker Ibrahimovic’s father is a Bosniak from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
No fans attended the match because of COVID-19 restrictions, but the stadium’s hospitality boxes on the top of its western stands, that can accommodate several hundred people, were packed.
Tickets for those seats are usually not put on sale but are given either to the club’s guests or to journalists.
Ibrahimovic was seated in the stadium’s west tier behind the dugouts along with other Milan substitutes and staff.
Last week, Red Star apologised to Ibrahimovic in a statement and said they would work with authorities to identify the offender.